Universal Craftsman Council of Engineers History

From The Builder Magazine - April 1922




       ON the 20th day of October, 1898, the writer called on a brother engineer in his engine room - Benjamin Dettleback was his name - and in the course of a conversation made the remark that an organization of  engineers composed entirely of Master Masons would be an ideal thing. Brother Dettleback was so favorably impressed with the scheme that for the next few weeks we met as often as we could to talk the matter over. At last we decided to canvass the city to discover how many engineers might be eligible. We worked on this until December 10th, 1899, when we inserted a notice in one of our daily papers calling a meeting at the Forest City House.

       We met on December 22, 1899, with twenty-seven present. As a result of the conference we organized, calling ourselves Craftsmen. Owing to the opposition encountered on the part of those Masonic brethren who were fearful lest this might prove an unwarrantable innovation in the Fraternity we found it uphill work. But we were very careful not to infringe upon any of the laws and usages of the Fraternity and we kept at it with much patience until at last the most skeptical conceded our success.

       That which was begun in Cleveland took root in other parts of the country, so that today we have Councils of Engineers from Manitoba to Texas, San Francisco to Boston. A great organization has come into being, known as The Universal Craftsman Council of Engineers. This larger organization came into existence through a conference held in my home at Cleveland on September 14th, 1903, when there were present besides myself nine delegates, their names being: Benjamin Dettleback, of Cleveland; Oscar Mabie and John L. O'Brien of Chicago; John H. Leathers, of Rochester, New York; Charles E. Davey of Detroit; and James Gillespie of Philadelphia. This organization now numbers over sixty councils and is powerful enough to enable Masonic engineers to hold their own in the competitive market. In many of the large cities today they are in possession of from seventy to ninety per cent of all the principal power plants, and in the Chicago district alone 1300 of the most prominent plants are in the hands of Craftsmen. Also, the organization publishes, and sends to each member, The Universal Engineer which is everywhere conceded to be one of the best, if not the best, journal of its kind.

       To return to Cleveland. The Masonic brothers of the city who were not engineers but who followed similar crafts became so much interested in our work, and were so eager to share in the benefits which we had won for ourselves, that they asked for rights of affiliation: but the Constitution of our International made it impossible for us to accept them, so we urged them to form similar organizations of their own. This they did, and now we have nine crafts so organized, among them being workers in electricity, wood, plumbing, steam-fitting, printing, sheet-metal, building, etc. These comprise a total membership of over one thousand, and they are altogether joined in the organization known as The Cleveland Federation of Craftsmen.

       Each of the nine bodies has a representation on the board of control of three for the first hundred members, and one additional for every hundred or major fraction thereof above one hundred. The Federation meets each month to transact such business as may call for deliberation, and at this meeting each constituent body reports the number of men out of employment. Each council has its employment committee and the Federation has a general employment committee composed of one member from each council. If any reader should suppose that these are committees in name only he has another guess coming, for they are active twenty-four hours a day. The Federation of Craftsmen has just purchased a fine twenty-two room residence in the heart of the city to serve as headquarters and club rooms.

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This is a copy of their first Artucles of Incorporation 1903.

These Articles of Incorporation

The Universal Craftsmen Council of Engineers

Witnesseth, That we, the undersigned, all of whom are citizens of the state of Ohio,
desiring to form a corporation, not for profit, under the general corporation laws of said state, do
hereby certify:

FIRST. The name of said corporation shall be The Universal Craftsmen Council of

SECOND. Said corporation hall be located, and its principal business transacted at
Cleveland, in Cuyahoga County, Ohio.

THIRD. The purpose for which said corporation is formed for the better education,
improvement and elevation of engineers both in and out of the Masonic Fraternity; to bring such
members of the Craft into closer contact individually; to comfort and relieve their necessities; to
promote and maintain the best interests of its membership intellectually, morally, socially and
materially; the society hereby incorporated to be and become the Grand Council of said
association or brotherhood of engineers with power to grant charters or certificates of
organization to subordinate councils or lodges and to revoke same; anywhere throughout the
United States, its territories, colonies and dependencies and throughout the world; to establish
and promulgate all proper and necessary laws, edicts, rules and regulations calculated and
intended to maintain said Grand Council; and establish, maintain and promote subordinate
councils and lodges; and to advance in every proper, legal and honorable way the best interests
of said Grand and subordinate councils and lodges and the membership thereof individually and
generally. This corporation to be the initial and united Grand Council from which and authorized
by which all other subordinate councils and lodges to be known under said name shall be
authorized and established.

In Witness Whereof, we have hereunto set our hands this thirty-first day of October,


ISI Osmer N. Pomeroy
ISI Benjamin Dettelbach
ISI Frank E. Peck

ISI Elwin E. Salisbury
ISI Chas. F. Seigrist




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